University of Zagreb Medical School, Croatian Institute for Brain Research, Zagreb, Croatia.
Translational Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 0.72). 01/2011; 2(3):256-264.
Source: PubMed


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) represent complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interactions, abnormal development and use of language, and monotonously repetitive behaviors. With an estimated heritability of more than 90%, it is the most strongly genetically influenced psychiatric disorder of the young age. In spite of the complexity of this disorder, there has recently been much progress in the research on etiology, early diagnosing, and therapy of autism. Besides already advanced neuropathologic research, several new technological innovations, such as sleep functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging ((1)H-MRS) divulged promising breakthroughs in exploring subtle morphological and neurochemical changes in the autistic brain. This review provides a comprehensive summary of morphological and neurochemical alterations in autism known to date, as well as a short introduction to the functional research that has begun to advance in the last decade. Finally, we mention the progress in establishing new standardized diagnostic measures and its importance in early recognition and treatment of ASD.

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Available from: Maja Cepanec, Oct 07, 2015
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    • "These neurobehavioral disorders are characterized by abnormalities in three behavioral domains including disturbances in social interaction, impaired communication skills, and repetitive stereotypic behaviors with an onset recognized prior to 3 years of age [2]. ASD includes not only classical autism (autistic disorder) but also asperger disorder (high functioning) and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends autism screening of all infants and toddlers for early identification and intervention by at least 12 months of age and again at 24 months. "
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    ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are neurobehavioral disorders characterized by abnormalities in three behavioral domains including social interaction, impaired communication, and repetitive stereotypic behaviors. ASD affects approximately 1% of children and is on the rise with significant genetic mechanisms underlying these disorders. We review the current understanding of the role of genetic and metabolic factors contributing to ASD with the use of new genetic technology. Fifty percent is diagnosed with chromosomal abnormalities, small DNA deletions/duplications, single-gene conditions, or metabolic disturbances. Genetic evaluation is discussed along with psychiatric treatment and approaches for selection of medication to treat associated challenging behaviors or comorbidities seen in ASD. We emphasize the importance of prioritizing treatment based on target symptom clusters and in what order for individuals with ASD, as the treatment may vary from patient to patient.
    05/2012; 2012(4):242537. DOI:10.1155/2012/242537
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    ABSTRACT: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized clinically by impairments in social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication skills as well as restricted interests and repetitive behavior. It has been hypothesized that altered brain environment including an imbalance in neurotrophic support during early development contributes to the pathophysiology of autism. Here we report that sera from children with autism which exhibited abnormal levels of various neurotrophic factors induced cell death and oxidative stress in mouse primary cultured cortical neurons. The effects of sera from autistic children were rescued by pre-treatment with a ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) small peptide mimetic, Peptide 6 (P6), which was previously shown to exert its neuroprotective effect by modulating CNTF/JAK/STAT pathway and LIF signaling and by enhancing brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression. Similar neurotoxic effects and neuroinflammation were observed in young Wistar rats injected intracerebroventricularly with autism sera within hours after birth. The autism sera injected rats demonstrated developmental delay and deficits in social communication, interaction, and novelty. Both the neurobiological changes and the behavioral autistic phenotype were ameliorated by P6 treatment. These findings implicate the involvement of neurotrophic imbalance during early brain development in the pathophysiology of autism and a proof of principle of P6 as a potential therapeutic strategy for autism.
    PLoS ONE 03/2015; 10(3):e0118627. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118627 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The brain's high concentrations of cholesterol make it especially vulnerable to the cholesterol biosynthetic defect that characterizes Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS). An attempt to characterize the cognitive and behavioral phenotype of SLOS has identified increased rates of intellectual disability, language and motor developmental delay, repeated self-injury behaviors, sensory hyperreactivity, hyperactivity, affect dysregulation, and sleep disturbances. Some research has suggested that carriers of the gene mutation that results in SLOS display increased risk of suicidal behavior. Cholesterol dysregulation impairs neuroplasticity, which may be a mechanism underlying some of the mentioned abnormalities. Discrete positive effects have been reported with the use of cholesterol supplementation in the treatment of SLOS. Research has been limited by the small number of subjects available, and a limited understanding of lipid metabolism in the brain. Hopefully future research will help clarify the role that cholesterol plays in cognitive and behavioral abnormalities like the ones associated with SLOS. This would accelerate the development of treatments for SLOS, and perhaps also further understanding of non-syndromic psychiatric disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C Seminars in Medical Genetics 11/2012; 160C(4):295-300. DOI:10.1002/ajmg.c.31342 · 3.91 Impact Factor
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